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FEMA’s trailers may not be so temporary

FEMA plans to establish hundreds of thousands of trailers to house evacuees of Hurricane Katrina. But as NBC's Kerry Sanders reports, if Punta Gorda, Fla.'s experience with Hurricane Charley is any indication, the housing may not be so temporary.

Trailers are "home sweet home" — at least temporarily — for up to 300,000 displaced families who were in Katrina's path.

So evacuees can leave places like Salt Lake City and come back home.

"I'm ready to get out of here, I know that," says one man who was relocated to the Utah capital. "I mean, it's a nice place, but you know, I'm standing in a soup line."

Katrina's widespread damage is unprecedented. The closest comparison of what the destroyed areas will face can be found 500 miles southeast in Charlotte County, Fla.

That's where you'll find nearly 500 trailers brought in by the Federal Emergency Management Agency after Hurricane Charley last year. It's a small example of the dozens of much larger FEMA cities with up to 5,000 trailers each that are expected to grow in Katrina's wake.

"I already can tell you right now, get your headlines ready, because we're not going to do a perfect job of it," says FEMA Housing Area Commander Brad Gair.

The Ghostly family has no choice but to accept a rent-free trailer. Rent prices in Punta Gorda after Charley have skyrocketed.

"I've looked at places to live in, for rent," says Melissa Ghostley. "$1,000 to $900 a month. I just can't afford it."

It's called temporary housing. FEMA's city in Punta Gorda is scheduled to close in February 2006. That will be 18 months after Hurricane Charley hit. But the reality is: When the deadline arrives, most of the residents here still won't have anywhere to go.

Consider this a warning to all those who will live in trailers: FEMA says some may be forced to call them home for as long as five years.